Posts Tagged ‘electoral college’

Electoral math

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

There’s a reason why the GOP has won two-thirds of the presidential elections held since LBJ left office. By the late 1960s, the electoral map that defined the New Deal coalition was in tatters; once Nixon (and then Reagan) coaxed the sunbelt/southern states out of the Democratic orbit, a political realignment toward the GOP took place that endures today. Even now, for all the talk of 2008 being a potential “realigning” election, Obama has yet to fundamentally redraw the electoral map, though he has come closer to doing so than any other Democrat since Bill Clinton.

Nonetheless, by way of perspective, consider this: if the situation were reversed, and the Democrats had presided over a collapsing economy and a relentless quagmire of a war, they wouldn’t be looking at electoral totals in the three-digits.  (McCain is at about 150 right now, and will probably rack up a lot more than that).  They’d be looking at being on the wrong end of yet another blowout a la 1980, or even 1984 or 1972.  Again, that’s because of the electoral math.  The worst-case scenario for the GOP in any election is to win most of the south and midwest.  The GOP could run Bugs Bunny, and he’d still pick up those states (“he’s a friend to small-towns . . .he’s a true American”).  But (as the 1972/1984 elections show), the worst case scenario for the Democrats involves them picking up D.C., and maybe the candidate’s home state.  It’s not that Obama can’t turn this election into a blowout; it’s just that Democratic blowouts look very different than Republican ones. But if he becomes president-elect next Tuesday, he won’t be complaining.

A tied electoral college?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 has a fascinating article on what’s arguably the worst electoral situation of all: each candidate gets 269 electoral votes apiece. In which case the election would move to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would get one vote, meaning that New York and North Dakota would be on equal footing and the political wrangling would be absolutely off the charts. And since the Senate picks the VP, we could even conceivably see a president from one party and a VP from another.  Assuming the country didn’t disintegrate into civil war in the meantime.

What’s of particular interest to me as a D.C. resident is the ambiguous role of the nation’s capital in such a scenario. D.C. gets 3 electoral votes, but has a non-voting presence in the House.  (well, they get to vote in committees, as long as their “vote” isn’t the decisive one).  So would D.C. be allowed to play a part in a House election?  Turns out it’s up to the Supreme Court.  And their verdict’s easy to predict.